July 1. A Muslim taxi driver in Leicester refused to pick up a blind couple because they had a guide dog. Charles Bloch and Jessica Graham had booked a taxi with ADT Taxis for them and their guide dog, Carlo. But when the taxi arrived, the driver said, "Me, I not take the dog. For me, it's about my religion." Many Muslims believe dogs are impure and haram (strictly forbidden).
July 1. A judge in London ordered the deportation of Saliman Barci, a 41-year-old Albanian man who posed as a refugee from Kosovo and collected the full range of welfare payments in Britain for 14 years. Barci, it turned out, was a citizen of Albania who had murdered two men there in 1997. Shortly after carrying out the killings, Barci fled Albania and eventually reached Britain, where he claimed asylum as a refugee. In 2009, a court in Albania sentenced Barci in absentia to 25 years in prison for the double murder. British authorities only became aware of Barci's real identity after an altercation at his London home, when the police arrived and took his fingerprints.
July 2. A Somali man was sentenced to ten years in prison for raping two women in Birmingham. Dahir Ibrahim, 31, had previously been sentenced to ten years in 2005 for raping a woman in Edgbaston. A judge had ordered his deportation after he had served his first sentence, but he appealed and was allowed to remain in Britain. Ibrahim's attorney, Jabeen Akhtar, successfully argued that he had a lack of understanding of what is acceptable in the United Kingdom.
July 3. Azad Chaiwala, a Muslim entrepreneur in Manchester, launched a campaign to "remove the taboo" behind polygamy by starting two polygamy matchmaking sites: secondwife.com, exclusive to Muslims, and polygamy.com, open to "Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics — whoever you are." Chaiwala said:
"I was 12 when I came out of the polygamy closet... Changing people's perception of polygamy. If I can do that, and bring more family stability, happiness and a large support system infrastructure, I'll be happy. And in the end, I'm a Muslim and I'm rewarded for doing good. So I hope that when I die, my creator will reward me with something better than what I had in this world in return. It's almost like I get my religious kick out of it, I get my business kick out of it and I also get a lot of thank-you letters."
Polygamy is illegal in Britain.
July 4. A Muslim man was ordered to bring his nine-year-old daughter back to Britain after taking her to Algeria and leaving her there with his relatives. The man said he did not approve of his estranged wife's new Christian partner. In his ruling, Mr Justice Hayden said the woman had converted to Islam to marry the man, who was now unhappy about the lifestyle she was leading after their separation:
"The father has been extremely critical of the mother and of what he now regards as her un-Islamic lifestyle, which he has described as 'debauched.' He has been dismissive of her care of their daughter and of her choice of partner. He plainly does not consider it appropriate for their daughter to be brought up where her mother lives with a Christian man."
July 5. ITV News reported that an alleged British member of the infamous Islamic State execution squad made a dating profile before he left Britain; he was advertising for a wife to join him in Syria. Alexander Kotey, a convert to Islam who also uses the name Abu Salih, was identified in February as one of the so-called "Beatles" who detained and killed a string of Western hostages. According to ITV, a profile he made for himself before leaving London for Syria, shows a "more sensitive side" to the killer:
"I am a practicing revert brother of mixed race origin. I enjoy outdoor activities and like getting away from the city. I hope to eventually leave (hijrah from) London and settle elsewhere. I am seeking a sister who is, or at least striving to be serious about her religion, sincere towards Allah (SWT), affectionate, caring and understanding, who understands the importance of always referring matters back to Allah and his messenger. And she should be willing and prepared to migrate to a Muslim land."
After posting it, Kotey is believed to have used an aid convoy as cover to travel to the Middle East before slipping across the border into Syria. His whereabouts are unknown. According to ITV, it is believed he is still an Islamic State fighter.
July 5. The Labour Party reinstated Naz Shah, a Muslim MP from Bradford who was suspended over anti-Semitic Facebook posts that called on Israelis be deported to the United States. "Antisemitism is racism, full stop," she said. "As an MP, I will do everything in my power to build relations between Muslims, Jews and people of different faiths and none."
July 6. A Muslim man appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on charges of forcing his wife to wear a headscarf outside of her bedroom, banning her from speaking to other men and beating her. Abdelhadi Ahmed, 39, denied one count of engaging in controlling or coercive behavior in an intimate relationship, one count of criminal damage and two counts of assault by beating.
July 7. A woman who plotted a jihadist attack on a shopping center in Westfield had her sentence reduced for "good behavior." Sana Khan, 24, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for preparing terrorist acts on the anniversary of the London 7/7 bombings with her husband at the time, Mohammed Rehman. She had her sentence reduced by two years.
July 8. Mohammed Habibullah, a 69-year-old imam who leads prayers at a mosque in Dudley, was given a suspended sentence after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman. In determining the sentence, Judge Amjad Nawaz, a fellow Muslim, said that although Habibullah's victim had been left "psychologically damaged," he was a man of "positive good character" who had given more than 25 years of service to the Muslim community as an imam.
July 8. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of the school inspection service Ofsted, warned that the "Trojan Horse" campaign to impose radical Islamic ideas on Birmingham schools has "gone underground" but has not gone away. He warned that Birmingham was failing to ensure that "children are not being exposed to harm, exploitation or the risk of falling under the influence of extremist views."
July 9. More than 200 individuals and human rights groups signed an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to dismantle a panel chosen to oversee an official inquiry into Sharia courts in Britain. They said that by appointing an Islamic scholar as chair and placing two imams in advisory roles, the panel's ability to make an impartial assessment of how religious arbitration is used to the detriment of women's rights will be compromised. "It is patronizing if not racist to fob off minority women with so-called religious experts who wish to legitimate Sharia laws as a form of governance in family and private matters," the letter said.
The review, announced in May as part of the government's counter-extremism strategy and due to be completed by 2017, is to be chaired by Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Edinburgh. Siddiqui said those who signed the letter demonstrated a "profound misunderstanding of Sharia."
The Iranian-born human rights activist, Maryam Namazie, who leads the campaign One Law For All, countered:
"The law and not religion should be the basis of justice for citizens. We are calling for an impartial judge-led inquiry that places human rights, not theology, at the heart of the investigation.
"Far from examining the connections between religious fundamentalism and women's rights, the narrow remit of the inquiry will render it a whitewash. It seems more geared to rubberstamping the courts than defending women's rights."
July 10. More than 1,500 children — including 257 under the age of 10 — have been referred to the Channel program, the government's anti-terrorism deradicalization scheme, in the past six months, according to figures released by the National Police Chief's Council under the Freedom of Information Act. Since July 2015, teachers have been legally obliged to report any suspected extremist behavior to police as part of the government's anti-radicalization strategy.
July 11. A Pew Research Center survey found that more than half (52%) of Britons surveyed said they believe that incoming refugees and migrants will increase the threat of terrorism in the UK. More than half (54%) of Britons also said that Muslims in the UK "want to be distinct from the larger society." Nearly half (46%) said that migrants are an economic burden on the UK.
July 12. Residents in Manchester received leaflets in their mail boxes calling for a public ban on dogs. The leaflets, distributed by a group called "Public Purity," stated:
"This area is home to a large Muslim community. Please have respect for us and for our children and limit the presence of dogs in the public sphere.
"As citizens of a multicultural nation, those who live in the UK must learn to understand and respect the legacy and lifestyle of Muslims who live alongside them.
"Help us make this a reality. Let your local MP know how you feel about this. Make Muslims feel like they live in a safe and accepting space, welcoming them and respecting their beliefs."
A snapshot of Islamic multiculturalism in Manchester: A local Muslim entrepreneur recently launched two polygamy matchmaking sites (pictured left, an image from secondwife.com), while a local Islamic group distributed leaflets requested that residents "limit the presence of dogs in the public sphere." Many Muslims believe dogs are impure and haram (strictly forbidden).
July 12. Muslim convert Gavin Rae, 36, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for trying to buy weapons for the Islamic State. Rae, a former soldier with the British Army, was arrested in a sting operation. He told an undercover officer:
"It's not gonna be long now before Islam will come to the shores of this country...and if they reject it we'll fight them. But we want to live under sharia not democracy." He also said that once his family was in a Muslim country, he would "go then and sacrifice my life for Allah."
July 13. Ian Acheson, the head of a review into extremism in British prisons, warned that there is a hardcore group of jihadi prisoners whose "proselytizing behavior" among the 12,500 Muslim inmates in England and Wales was so dangerous that they should be separated from the rest of the prison population. Addressing the select committee on justice in the House of Commons, Acheson said:
"There is intelligence that there are a small number of people whose behavior is so egregious in relation to proselytizing this pernicious ideology... they need to be completely incapacitated from being able to proselytize to the rest of the prison population."
July 15. A Muslim teacher visiting a pub in Hertfordshire was asked to remove his school sweatshirt because it had the word "Islam" on the back and it was upsetting customers. Nurul Islam, 32, said he was wearing his school sweatshirt, which has his surname on the back, when a waiter at the pub asked him to remove it because "it was making some customers feel uncomfortable" after the jihadist attack in Nice. Islam added:
"I didn't know quite what to say, and at first I didn't link what he'd said with the lorry attack in France, but when it sank in I was shocked. I was being discriminated against because of my surname so I was left really upset after the incident. We all have surnames on the backs of our hoodies, which is the responsible thing to do.
"I'm not a practicing Muslim but I am a Muslim. It makes me feel terrible that my name is the cause of such contention when all it means is peace. If I had the word 'peace' on there, would he still have asked me to leave?" [Islam, in fact, means "submission," not "peace."]
Hertfordshire Police said: "A specialist hate crime officer is investigating to establish whether offenses have been committed."
July 18. Kelvin Mackenzie, a columnist for The Sun, wrote that Fatima Manji, a presenter for Channel 4 television, should not have been allowed to anchor new reports on the jihadist attack in Nice, France, because she is a Muslim and wears the hijab. Mackenzie wrote:
"I could hardly believe my eyes. The presenter was not one of the regulars... but a young lady wearing a hijab. Her name is Fatima Manji and she has been with the station for four years. Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?
"Would the C4 editor have used a Hindu to report on the carnage at the Golden Temple of Amritsar? Of course not. Would the station have used an Orthodox Jew to cover the Israeli-Palestine conflict? Of course not.
"With all the major terrorist outrages in the world currently being carried out by Muslims, I think the rest of us are reasonably entitled to have concerns about what is beating in their religious hearts. Who was in the studio representing our fears? Nobody."
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), the press regulator, said it had received more than 300 complaints about Mackenzie's column.
July 18. The Independent Press Standards Organisation, the press regulator, ruled that the Mail Online was wrong to use the words "Islamic honor killing" in a headline because it wrongly suggested that the crime had been motivated by Islam. The article concerned the killing of Saima Khan in Luton in May, while most of her family were attending a funeral at a nearby mosque. Khan's sister was subsequently charged with the murder.
Miqdaad Versi, the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, lodged a complaint. He said "honor killings" are rooted in culture not religion:
"It is vital that news outlets do not encourage Islamophobia through the usage of clearly inaccurate and inflammatory headlines, especially in today's climate.
"Honor killings are barbaric acts based in culture and not in faith. The Ipso ruling demonstrates unequivocally that the usage of 'Islamic honor killing' constituted a significant breach in the editors' code."
The Mail Online amended its headline to "Mother of four stabbed to death while her family were at a funeral 'may have been murdered in honor killing.'" It also added a footnote stating: "An earlier version of this article said that police were investigating whether Ms. Khan may have been murdered in an 'Islamic honor killing'. We are happy to make clear that Islam as a religion does not support so-called 'honor killings.'"
July 20. Abdi Waise, 28, an illegal immigrant from Somalia, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for kidnapping a schoolgirl and attempting to abduct four others aged between 11 and 14 in North London over the space of two-and-half hours. The crimes occurred just three weeks after Waise was released early from an eight-year prison sentence for rape. He was served a deportation order but was later freed: the British government decided that war-torn Somalia was too dangerous for foreign criminals.
July 20. Two men were jailed and two women were given suspended sentences for throwing bacon sandwiches at a mosque in Bristol. The group was also served with a restraining order preventing them from going within 100 meters of a mosque anywhere in England or Wales for the next 10 years.
July 20. Police in Norfolk called for increased vigilance against forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). The number of cases soar during the summer months, when schools are closed and young girls are taken abroad. Equality Now, a group that campaigns for women's human rights, estimates that 137,000 women and girls living in England and Wales have been affected by FGM.
July 21. NHS Digital, the national provider of information about healthcare, reported 5,700 new cases of female genital mutilation in England during April 2015 to March 2016. The statistics, the first to be published since the government introduced compulsory reporting for public hospitals, show that in 18 cases the FGM had been performed in the UK. The most frequent age at which FGM was carried out was between five and nine. More than half of all cases relate to women and girls from London.
July 21. The Cabinet Office released files about Margaret Thatcher's immigration policy from 1982 to 1986, which show that she was strongly opposed to admitting women to the UK who were the second wives of men in polygamous marriages. A document showed that then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd suggested making future polygamous marriages invalid but recognizing existing ones. Thatcher wrote in the margin: "We do not recognize polygamy at all."
July 23. The Home Office confirmed that 550,000 teachers, nurses, child care providers and other public sector workers have been trained in the Prevent strategy, a counter-terrorism training program, to help them spot and report potential extremists in their workplaces. Under Prevent, extremism is defined as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs."
July 26. The makers of Fireman Sam, an animated television series for children, apologized after an episode which aired on June 28 allegedly showed a character stepping on a page of the Koran. Muslim viewers claimed the episode "Troubled Waters" is Islamophobic because it showed a bumbling character named "Elvis" failing to respect the Muslim holy book. A scene shows Elvis holding a tray of tea and taking a fall when he slides on a piece of paper on the floor. Pages then fly up into the air as they, and the character, come crashing to the floor. Social media users said one of the pages briefly showed verses of the Koran. Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, wrote on Twitter: "Have no idea what went through the producers' minds when they thought this was a good idea #baffled."
The series was produced by an animation studio in China. A spokeswoman for Mattel, the multinational company that owns the show, said: "The page was intended to show illegible text and we deeply regret this error. We sincerely apologise for any distress or offense it may have caused. We will no longer be working with the animation studio responsible for this mistake."
July 26. The Home Office announced a £2.4 million ($3.2 million) "Hate Crime Action Fund" to "provide security measures and equipment for vulnerable places of worship that need increased protection." The plan promises extra data collection and training to identify "anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist and other bullying in schools."
July 26. Two men of "Middle Eastern appearance" attempted to abduct a serviceman at knifepoint at RAF Marham in Norfolk. The serviceman managed to fight off his attackers. Marham is home to four squadrons of Tornado bombers which have been flying raids against Islamic State in Syria from Cyprus. Air Force personnel have now been warned to "keep a low profile" and told not wear their uniforms in public.
July 28. The BBC reported that five books regarded as "extremist" by the Prison Service remained in jails in England and Wales for seven months after a review called for their removal. The banned titles were The Way of Jihad by Hassan Al-Banna; Milestones by Sayyid Qutb; The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi; Towards Understanding Islam by Syed Abul Ala Maududi; and Fundamentals of Tauheed by Bilal Philips.
July 29. A Muslim street preacher in Birmingham was charged with public order offenses after trying to enforce Sharia law on female passersby. Krissoni Henderson, 31, was arrested for allegedly shouting verbal abuse at a 38-year-old woman "for wearing tight jeans."
July 29. The Olympic swimming pool in Luton began hosting gender-segregated swimming sessions for "cultural reasons." Users of the pool — built with taxpayer money — were given sudden notice that there would be men-only sessions on Friday evenings. An outraged female swimmer told Luton News: "I have asked a team leader about it... he said it was a 'cultural thing.'"
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.